The RFU are considering making one of the biggest changes to the Six Nations format since it changed from five sides to six at the turn of the millennium.
According to The Times, following a proposal put forward by the clubs to the RFU, England and France would not take part in the first round of games while Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy would all play on the opening weekend. This would then be followed by a full round of fixtures on the second weekend and a standalone France-England game on the third weekend.
The alteration which is being put forward would mean the tournament would be shortened by a week with one rest weekend in the middle instead of the usual two, as is the norm at present.
While this change may have some benefits for two of world rugby’s biggest unions, the report states that all the Celtic nations along with Italy ‘firmly believe that the Six Nations format should remain unchanged’ given the fact their pool of players is, depending on the country, minuscule in comparison to England and France’s.
While the biggest clamour for change in recent times has been for Georgia to be allowed to step up to Six Nations level following sustained success in the Rugby Europe Championship this mooted alteration will certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons.
France, TV broadcasters and other stakeholders will need to agree to such a drastic change for anything to happen so whether or not a rethought schedule comes to fruition remains to be seen for now.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena